Dating after divorce: a starter guide
Examine your motives
One of the biggest mistakes people make is jumping into the dating pool too early. This happens because their motives are to prove something to themselves or their ex, or because they can’t bear the space in their life that the divorce has left and need to fill the vacant position as soon as possible. When we are driven by this kind of motivation we are liable to make bad choices and end up with more pain and heartache to deal with. There is the old cliché about meeting someone on the rebound but as with all cliches it has come about because it contains truth. Meeting someone on the rebound could be unfair to them and yourself.
All women are ……. All men are ……..
If your view of the opposite sex is seriously damaged by your marriage experience it is all too easy to generalise about the opposite sex but these prejudices will block you from forming a healthy new relationship. Take responsibility for looking at those beliefs and counteract them by looking at the healthy relationships you have with members of the opposite sex amongst your family and friends.
If your experience really is that ‘All women/men are …’ it may be that you need to look at your own behaviour in relationships to see if there is something you could do differently so you don’t repeat the same mistakes again.
A relationship isn’t the be all and end all. Some people look for a new relationship straight away because they want it to make them feel whole but in reality we need to feel complete and whole in ourselves if we want to have healthy relationships where we’re not in constant fear of being left or cheated on.
If you always do what you’ve always done you will always get what you’ve always got.
A new freedom
When you are ready and have fully let go of your marriage it can be an exciting time. It may be you were unhappy for many years before your marriage ended and beginning dating marks the start of a new chapter in your life. While you do need to be wary of making the same mistakes again it will be difficult to move forward if you are constantly comparing your dates with your ex. Try, as far as possible, to meet each new date with an open mind and an open heart and judge them on their own merits.
Enjoy time to pursue new or old interests, spend time with your friends and family, take time to really review your life and think about where you want to be in five years time. Be clear about what you want, do you want something light-hearted and fun or are you looking for a life partner, take the reigns of your life back. Really attractive people are people who are lit up by life, enthusiastic and optimistic not jaded and bitter.
A private life
If you have children the chances are that you will still be having some sort of contact with your ex and you will have to take their feelings into consideration when you start dating again. Exes can sometimes start making life very difficult if they feel you are moving on and they aren’t. If there are issues around finances and child care it is better to keep your new life to yourself at first rather than aggravate what may already be a sensitive situation.
Children need particular consideration after divorce no matter how old they are. They need to go through their own grieving process which can often take much longer because they weren’t part of the decision to divorce. The introduction of someone new in their lives when they are going through this process and getting used to their new living situation can prompt some challenging behaviours, even in adult children who have left home.
The answer is to give it time. Once you have met someone special and feel sure that there is a future together then most people will be happy for you. There is no rush and what’s most important is that you let go of the past and embrace your new future.
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